Edward The Elf Part 1

I first heard about the American Elf on a Shelf tradition this year.  In a nutshell: you buy an expensive doll, register it online, then spend Advent threatening your kids that the elf is grassing them up to Santa, and every evening posing the elf in increasingly imaginative hiding / posing places.  Apparently it’s very popular.  Although there’s a lot about that tradition that I personally don’t like, I felt that there were a few things that I’d like to incorporate in our Christmas for this year and this year only.

What kicked it off? Well, it occurred to me that now Maxi Minx is 6, it’s possible that this Christmas will be our last where all 3 girls whole-heartedly believe that Santa Claus is rewarding their good behaviour with presents; when Christmas is still utterly magical and mystical to them.  Based on me and my siblings, we learned and understood the awful truth about Santa sometime between the ages of 5 and 8.  Although I know that Maxi will be happy to join the team and promote Santa’s magic to her little sisters, I want to prolong the innocence and downright fun of all their childhoods as long as I can.

So… we’ve been using the free PNP (Portable North Pole) service for 3 (4?) years, now – you upload details and photos of your child and ‘Santa’ emails them a personal, fun video.  Me and The Boss absolutely love watching the girls’ expressions and reactions when they get their video at the beginning of December, after they’ve written their letters to Santa.  It’s been the same actor all this time, so Maxi and Midi absolutely, categorically believe that THIS is Santa.  The annual video message from Santa makes Maxi’s eyes sparkle like no other event.

This year I felt that I wanted something a bit more long-lasting than that 3 or 4 minute message; something that would keep that magic at home with us.  I thought that an adaptation of the Elf on a Shelf tradition might work.  A fortnight in, I have to say that it’s been a bigger success than I’d hoped.  Here’s what I did:

Edward the Elf

Edward the Elf

I want this to be a one-off, so decided to knit a little elf, rather than buy one or make a huge fancy one.  I wanted to make it myself, knitting every stitch full of love for my daughters.  This free Tiny Elf knitting pattern from Spud fitted the bill.  Then I wrote a letter from Santa to the girls.  It would have been easy to fill it full of warnings and threats about bad behaviour consequences, but do you know what?  My wee minxes are good little girls; they frequently show each other lots of care and love.  What a brilliant opportunity to acknowledge that!  So Santa introduced Edward to them as an elf who worked on the chocolate orange factory line who wasn’t getting along with the other little elves.  Santa wanted Edward to learn by watching my minxes in action to see how well they got along together (none of them spotted the throwaway line that he’d also be telling Santa how they were behaving).

On Sat 1 Dec, while everyone was busy helping The Boss make pancakes for breakfast, I sneaked Edward to the front door, holding the letter, and let the girls find him.  Maxi read out the letter to her sisters.  Mini just chuckled and wanted to waggle his bell; Midi’s eyes got rounder and rounder.  They were instantly convinced that he’d come from Santa.  Hehehehe!

From that night, he got up to little pranks.  Within a few days he’d transformed mornings in our house – instead of having to haul the girls out of bed, they wanted to immediately bound downstairs to see what Edward had been up to.  Even better, they wanted to gather together as a trio to go see, together.  It’s been working better than an Advent calendar!

Dec 2: he was obviously missing his chocolate oranges, because he was found with his nose buried in oranges

Dec 2: he was obviously missing his chocolate oranges, because he was found with his nose buried in oranges

Dec 3: making snow angels in the flour

Dec 3: making snow angels in the flour

Dec 4: spelling his name out in sultanas

Dec 4: spelling his name out in sultanas

Dec 5: Santa sent a chocolate orange and a letter of praise to the girls

Dec 5: Santa sent a chocolate orange and a letter of praise to the girls

Dec 6: getting to know the other toys

Dec 6: getting to know the other toys

Dec 7: hiding in the wreath

Dec 7: hiding in the wreath

Dec 8: re-decorating the tree then hiding under the star

Dec 8: re-decorating the tree then hiding under the star

Dec 9: what the kids think happened (the trail of flour leads to the fridge, with a big jug of pancake batter inside)

Dec 9: what the kids think happened (the trail of flour leads to the fridge, with a big jug of pancake batter inside)

Dec 9: what actually happened..!

Dec 9: what actually happened..!

Dec 10: fun with soap

Dec 10: fun with soap

Dec 11: getting to know (!) the doll's house doll. Watched by a pair of smiling OAPs...

Dec 11: getting to know (!) the doll’s house doll. Watched by a pair of smiling OAPs…

Dec 12: more toilet roll fun

Dec 12: more toilet roll fun

Dec 13: a letter from Santa congratulating them on their gymnastics competition and some special good-sister efforts. A new leotard for Maxi and Midi, and paints for Mini

Dec 13: a letter from Santa congratulating them on their gymnastics competition and some special good-sister efforts. A new leotard for Maxi and Midi, and paints for Mini

Still Alive… Just Busy

sleeping cat

Foster-cat: happy and dreaming of the seagulls he can chase

I’ve been reading my favourite book at night this week – my old diary from when Maxi Minx was 2 and Midi was weaning. The Boss has been grumpy about me sniggering at it and waking him up.

I’ve also been busy knitting up for a Baby Show craft fair, getting a brochure designed for my little business, Rainbow Knits, sending a fan mail letter to the people who manufacture my favourite wool that’s turning into a bit of a lucky business opportunity, talking garments with my 5 lovely testers (been receiving photos of some seriously photogenic, beautiful babies who are making my knits look special and me incredibly broody), taking on a 12-year-old foster-cat for the next 2 years and separating him and our 5 yo tabby (she wants to be friends; he doesn’t), sorting out my messy garden, baking and partying over Maxi’s birthday, and generally faffing around. You know how it is.

So I thought I’d wave and say ‘I’m still alive and so are the minxes’ and leave you with yesterday’s Midi-ism:

Midi: “Daddy, my head still hurts! It’s so sore! I just can’t stop thinking!”
The Boss: “Well, stop thinking so hard, then”
Midi: “I tried that, but it didn’t work. I keep on thinking, thinking, thinking. Argh! It must be bleeding!” (checks ears with fingers for signs of brain-seepage)

‘Rest’ Day

Good Friday, Day 7 of the Easter Holidays

Current ban on glue? No problem for Maxi - use a whole roll of sellotape instead

What a yucky day! Unrelenting rain. But because we were all a bit frazzled, we decided to have a stay-at-home-day today. Well, except for me and Mini Minx who zoomed off right after breakfast with a long shopping list and 5 shops to visit. And every bin in the high street. Have I told you that Mini is obsessed with wheelie bins and skips..? Again, she refused to go in the sling or even hold my hand. “I walk!” she insisted. “Woe do!”

Mid-film, mid-munch

When we got back, Maxi and Midi had transformed the downstairs. I think the idea of having a home cinema day to watch their new DVDs had caught their imagination. They’d lined every stuffed toy in the house into row upon row of ‘audience’. A huge number 8 outside the living room door gave me a clue which cinema was showing Toy Story that afternoon. hot cross bunsMidi had made a big decorated hand to go beside it, but we’ve still no idea why. Both girls happily ripped up paper into confetti-sized tickets for all their toys, and The Boss had taught them how to make paper bags for their popcorn. Maxi also had time to make a random spring-time collage (photo top left).

The latest knitted horrors that I'm going to inflict on Mini Minx

As soon as Mini went down for her nap, the curtains were drawn, DVD on, bags of popcorn readied, and everyone settled down for a lazy afternoon.

After the film / nap, we all belatedly made hot cross buns – I did the dough and The Boss and minxes did the rest while I finished a Fairisle cardigan that’s been on the go for weeks. The buns tasted good, but by golly they were tough!

Needing a Container Shipload of Tissues

The minxes are ill. Again.

There’s been a horrible virus doing the rounds. I’ve read online of my friends’ children falling ill with it, and watched as it seemed to rise up the country: Cambridge, Swindon, Nottingham, Yorkshire… it was inevitable it would end up here in Moray. Midi Minx fell ill with it first. She complained of an intermittent sore tummy (poss. swollen glands in her abdomen? Or 1001 other things, of course…) Then she had a sore throat and an awful-sounding cough. Then the high, high fever that’s barely kept in check with Calprofen and Calpol together.

No, I’m not a doctor, and yes I’ll take the kids to one if they’re not improving within 24 hours. But when they have identical symptoms to the other 12 kids off nursery and Primary 1, it’s probably safe to assume it’s ‘just’ a virus.

Are you the same as me? When you see your child get sick and you get that sinking feeling that it’s too late to save yourself? I’m old-fashioned and kiss my kids. A lot. So we all share our bugs a bit too well. So when Mini Minx started getting hot and cough-y, I thought: “INCOMING….!!!!”

That night Mini was delirious. I took her into my bed, beside a poorly Midi, and hoofed The Boss out into Midi’s bed so he could at least get some sleep before work. It was a real eye-opener listening to a 23 month old havering about cars and ‘drive-drive’, while her eyes were spinning around in her little head. Actually, talking of ‘eye-openers’, I wish I’d been a bit more alert and awake; then I might have dodged Mini cutting my eyelid with the edge of her book (yeah – papercut. Eyelid. Ouchie). I gave her and Midi a dose of baby Calprofen. It sent Midi to sleep but drove Mini into over-drive. So she spent the next 3 hours bouncing off the walls in my bedroom, chortling at the moon and poking her comatose sister in the nose.

The next morning, Maxi started coughing. OK, DVD and sofa day it is! Luckily I had the sense this time to anticipate what was coming and got ahead with the food shopping, mound of washing, hoovering and general boring household management. And checking once, twice, three times that we weren’t going to run out of coffee or tissues. That night The Boss faded fast…

So. Wednesday I had 3 babies and a husband all ill in bed / sofa. We were getting through calprofen and calpol by the bottle. That reminds me of probably my best parenting top tip: with multiple kids and multiple medicines, it’s *really* good to discipline yourself to write down what you’ve given, when, and to whom. You *will* forget. And whilst it’s difficult to overdose children on these medicines, the consequences of under-dosing them is dire…. (ok a bit tongue-in-cheek there, I admit). It’s especially important when you’re a bit shabby yourself…

So there I was on Thursday, merrily smug that I only had a bad cold, gleefully patting myself on the back for having a better immune system. Driving down to pick up Maxi from school (the only one recovered enough to go back), I settled back for 5 minutes to listen to the mellifluous tones of David Tennant (swoon) on a Radio 4 play. I felt all was pretty well with the world. The school bell went. I got out the car. And felt dizzy, cold and sick. I shivered over to get Maxi. I shook dramatically on the walk back. I worried that I was fit to even drive home. I had a very unpleasant night of sweats, chills, aches, sharp pains, crazy dreams, and all 3 minxes kicking me all over. And The Boss emptying his prodigious sweat glands into the bed beside me.

Today the kids are better. Not well, but better. The Boss has looked after me well, and I just feel plain old rotten now. (And typically, I got a welcome order for a knitted beanie hat today! But feel morally that I need to wait till my nose-tap stops dripping before I knit something to sell. Ewwwwww!)

I loved The Young Ones as a teenager, so I couldn’t possibly leave any other link than this:

Child’s Fleece-Lined Pocketed Hat-Scarf Pattern

The wool shop struck again – it got me in its tractor-beam yesterday and dragged me in. I spotted some Romano Chunky by King Cole, in Aquarius. It’s a beautiful mix of teal-coloured chenille, turquoise fluff, and slubs of soft brown, purple, blue and green. Those colours suit all 3 of my wee minxes, so I had to buy it. Couldn’t help myself.

This is what I did yesterday with 2 balls of the stuff and a dark purple fleece throw that I bought in the Tesco sale for £1.50. It’s as soft and snuggly-warm as it looks, and Midi Minx is pretty delighted with it. I didn’t follow a pattern or work one out beforehand. Were I to make another one, though, I’d buy 3 balls of wool and make the scarf bit longer and maybe even knit the hood. The pockets are entirely fleece-lined and at the sides of the scarf. When you look at the diagram it looks like I’ve got them upside down, but they’re meant to be like that: this makes the scarf stay crossed over without tying it or using buttons, etc.

It took me an entire day to make, probably because I hand-stitched it and have never made a fleece-backed scarf before. Therefore, although it’s beautiful, it’s not going to make its way onto the online shelves of my knitwear shop! I thought instead that I’d jot down what I did so anyone who likes it can make it, too. I’m not writing it up as a free knitting pattern, as such – more a chatty description of my thoughts.

Why supply it free? What’s the catch? None! Feel free to use this pattern however you like. The only thing I ask is that if you use it to make items to sell, it would be good karma if you credited me either with a mention or a link to my website (http://www.rainbowknits.co.uk). And if you use it at all, it would be really lovely if you would post a comment to this post (even anonymously!) to say how it turned out, or to share with everyone any improvements you made to the basic instructions. Of course, a photo of your scarf would be truly awesome – I’d love to admire!

Child’s Pocketed Hat-Scarf by Rainbow Knits

Materials:

  • 2 x 50g balls of Romano Chunky (though 3 would give you more flexibility; approx £7.90 per ball)
  • pair of 8mm knitting needles
  • 8mm crochet hook
  • piece of thin fleece approx 85 x 42cm
  • appropriate needle and thread to sew the fleece to the scarf. I used a purple thread that matched the fleece, but you might prefer to use thick contrasting wool?

See? No seam at back of the head

Method

Prepare the Scarf

  1. With 8mm knitting needles, cast on 24 sts using whatever technique you like. I used the thumb method to give a nice elastic edge.
  2. Row 1: (K3, P1), rpt to end
  3. Row 2: (K1, P3), rpt to end
  4. These 2 rows set up a nice, loose rib that shows off the gorgeous wool and adds a little bit of stretch without eating up all your wall. Continue repeating these 2 rows till the end of the scarf. Mine measured approx 84 cm.
  5. You can either cast off nice and loosely here, leaving enough wool to do the edge around the hood, or you can do what I did: don’t cast off, but leave the stitches on a holder, or scooted round into the middle of a circular needle if that’s what you used instead of straight knitting needles. In this case, find the end of the ball of wool and use from there when you start to do the hood edge. If you need more wool, just unknit the scarf a row at a time until the hood edge is finished, then cast off. This way you maximise your wool!

Prepare the Fleece Lining

  1. A purist would block the scarf at this point; a lazy person in a hurry (me) would just stretch it ever so slightly out on my knee.
  2. Measure your scarf.
  3. Figure out the dimensions of the fleece lining (see Diagram 1 below in the separate link – click the orange link that says ‘Diagrams for Scarf’ right at the end of the blog post. Yep, after Edge for Hood paragraph):
    • Take a centimetre off the length and width – this is the basic rectangle of the lining;
    • Add a square 21 x 21cm in the middle of one edge (or to fit your child’s head. You just make a square whose side is long enough to go from the middle of the child’s head to the where the top of the scarf will sit on his/her neck, or from the middle of the back of your child’s head around to where you want the hood to end at the front, whichever is longer).
  4. Cut out your fleece in one elongated T shape to these dimensions.
  5. Cut out 2 squares for pockets to fit the end of the scarf. Mine were 17 x 17cm.
  6. You don’t need to seam or hem the fleece lining (yippee!!) but you do need to pin it to your scarf before you start to sew.
  7. Pin the pocket lining squares to the edge of the scarf first. Sew as per Diagram 2 (same orange link ‘Diagrams for Scarf’ below at the end of the post), ie the very outside edges. I used a running stitch.
  8. Now pin the scarf lining to the scarf on top of the pocket linings. Sew as per Diagram 3, leaving a slit for the hands to go in. Again, I just used running stitch. At all times check, check, check that the scarf and the lining are sitting pretty rectangular. You should have half a centimetre of scarf showing all the way round the lining, except for the hood.
  9. Now do the hood: fold the scarf in half, right sides touching. Seam the top edge (marked in Diagram 3) so you get a nice straight neat seam up the middle of the head.

Romano loveliness

Edge the Hood

  1. This is fun! You can do whatever edging you like, eg knit or crochet one you fancy and sew it on around the hood face. I decided to try something else out:
  2. Thread a needle with either thin wool or a couple of strands of thread. Using a running stitch and securely fastened at each end, sew along the face edge of the hood. Leave about half a centimetre or more between stitches: you want each stitch to be spaced about a double-crochet width apart.
  3. Now take your crochet hook and the leftover wool. With the right side facing you and using the visible edge stitches, double crochet into each stitch until the end of the hood edge. Turn.
  4.  Chain one. Double crochet into each double crochet all the way to the end. Turn
  5. Repeat the last row. Fasten off.

Diagrams for Scarf

Spotty Party

spotty party food

Are you seeing spots before your eyes...?

Today me and The Boss threw a spotty party for the minxes: spotty cup cake cases; cupcakes with white icing and either red cherry tops or pink smartie spots; cheese sandwiches cut out into spotty circles (as well as the other usual stuff: jelly, breadsticks, veg sticks, hummus, milk). The kids wore all the spotty clothes they could find. Why? Two out of 3 minxes have chicken pox…

The party was to make up for the girls missing their best friend’s birthday party today that they’ve been looking forward to for months. I realised how awful they felt when neither protested when I broke the news 2 days ago that they’d probably still be too ill to go. Still, they perked up a bit at our little party. The Boss even made up a Pass The Parcel with 10 layers of paper and their favourite party tunes on the iPod. Putting a smartie in each layer was a very cunning way of getting some calories in poorly little girls, too!

(I’ll post pics in a later revision to this post – I’m typing it on a very ancient desktop with sticky slow keys and no way to upload photos – the laptop adapter went Phhzzzzt)

I first heard from Midi that one of her nursery friends was off school in the last week before Christmas with chicken pox, but hoped it wasn’t so (she has a newborn baby brother, but hopefully the little mite will still have some immunity gained from his mummy). Anyway, when Maxi started spiking a fever and looking pale on 28th December, I assumed it was over-excitement from another birthday party she’d been to and loved. But chicken pox was in my suspicions. I had it at 15 and remember the headache I got was so excruciatingly painful that I bashed my head on a wall a few times to try to relieve the pressure pain. So, I kind of hoped it was – better to get it over with young – but still dreaded my little girls getting any illness at all.

On 29th, Maxi was white as a sheet, feverish most of the day and very, very subdued; Midi bounced off fewer walls than usual, too. I gave them a day of CBeebies (there’s only so much cake you can bake in a week!!) and checked for spots. Midi had a blister under her right armpit and Maxi had a little blister at the nape of her neck. Hmmmm…

On 30th, Maxi was still poorly and transparent-looking, but had 9 red spots. Bingo! I may not have spent 6 years studying medicine, but I sure recognised the blister spots. I made up Maxi a ‘nest’ of duvet and pillows on the sofa, constantly urged fluids on her, doped the poor child up on Calprofen, and nipped down the pharmacy for anti-histamine, calamine lotion and calamine cream. Alas they didn’t come in a paint pot with a brush – well, if all 3 are ill at the same time, we’re going to need a lot of the stuff…

Maxi’s feverish rants were quite impressive. On 31st she cuddled into my legs in bed and started accusing me of not eating enough cake. Ever since I started walking her to school I’d stopped being nice to cuddle. First my tummy, then my boobies, now my legs. In fact, my legs were hard and bony and tasted terrible. Taste?! Let me feel your forehead… Sizzle… yep, break out more Calprofen and Calpol!

chicken pox spots

Can you see the dot-to-dot picture?

On 31st Midi’s spots started popping out. By 1st, Maxi had maybe 30-40 spots total whereas poor Midi had that many around one ear alone. Mini merrily ran riot, oblivious to what lies in store for her, just gleeful that she can play with her sisters’ new toys pretty much unhindered.

I’ve not been all that concerned about Maxi’s appetite loss, other than to keep providing tempting food. So I’ve been driving The Boss mad with cooking up loads of stodge: macaroni cheese, sausages, steak pie with home-made rough puff pastry, strawberry milk jelly. Craving spicy curries but warming to the theme, he even tried making her baked camembert with breadsticks and broccoli (Maxi’s favourite meal at 18 months). But she’s only eaten a little cow shape of pastry, a banana, a spoonful of milk jelly and half a cupcake over the past 6 days (28th to 3rd). As she’s had around 500 pints of milk, water and apple juice (and even a wee bit of hot chocolate), I’m reasonably happy to leave her to it and not pressurise her to eat. Even though she’s nearly blue-ish white with terrible brown circles under her eyes, and has no energy to even sit up. I just get frantic when my babies don’t drink fluid, but that’s another story.

Poor Maxi has a sore chest and stomach from all the wet coughing and a thick yellow coating on her tongue – no wonder everything tastes awful to her! My gut tells me there’s something else going on, so although the NHS24 nurse said it was fine over the phone, if she’s no better tomorrow I’m bundling her down to the GP’s. I promise to phone ahead and warn them that though she’s no longer infectious (last new spots were on 2nd), her sister(s) undoubtedly are!

Midi’s appetite has been fine, but the spots are driving her bonkers. She has uncountable hundreds. The clusters round and inside her ears and her genitals hurt and itch terribly despite the Calprofen, calamine and anti-histamine. Her hair looks more like Doc Brown’s from Back to the Future than usual, because she scratches at her scalp all night.

I’ve knitted all the girls a pair of long socks each, but there’s no way I’m letting wool near all that itchy skin! It was a knitting marathon. Midi’s not impressed that I took a break from knitting her a jumper to do it. “Why you not knit my dj-schumpa??” she accuses every day. Harsh taskmaster that she is!

So, counting days on my fingers a lot like I counted them when I got pregnant with each minx: if Maxi was infectious 2 days before her spots appeared, then Mini was exposed to chicken pox on 28th at the latest. It takes 10-21 days to appear, so Mini will be infectious 2 days before her spots appear, ie from 5th till 16th Jan. Oh boy – that’s a long time to keep her away from people! I hope her spots come up pretty fast and the wee soul gets it over and done with. I hope she has the spots of Maxi and the general illness of Midi. Please God, not the other way round!

In other news, Mini cut her 11th tooth finally, yesterday: lower outer right incisor. Hooray!

Random Stuff on Christmas Eve

We were all sat at dinner last night, our usual chimps tea-party of a meal, food flying everywhere, cacophony and dodging spills. I detected an aroma most un-dinner-like. “Who’s done a poo?” I demanded, in jest, glaring at the baby. Mini Minx raised her little hand and impishly said, “Meeeeeeee!” Me and The Boss literally fell about laughing. I didn’t know she even understood what ‘me’ meant, never mind knew how to say it, or even indicate. Absolute genius!

Today, on a roll, I taught her how to say “Mmmmmm-pies!” but it comes out as a very cute un-Homer Simpson lisp of “mmMMMMmmmMMmm-pieth”. What a little love!

Midi Minx has been applying lipsalve like it’s gloss paint. We have suddenly run out of Pritt Stick. The 2 may well be unrelated, but I wouldn’t count on it.

Last night Midi and Maxi were playing at dress-up after bed time. “Mary!” yelled Midi. “Mary!!!” she yelled. “Get your baby up your tummy right now!” Then rolling her eyes at me, “I think Mary needs a smaller baby, actually”. Yep, they were doing their very own, unique nativity play and 3 year old Midi was the artistic director.

I had a seriously lovely Christmas treat today (Christmas Eve). Rather than fight the total gridlock that is Elgin on the day before Christmas (all 4 cars of it), I took Maxi out on a wee exped into town by bus. We browsed some sales, got everything on our list and more besides, then spent a happy half hour in the *empty* wool shop. Linda knows me well, so knows not to pressurise me even in the tiniest way: leave me to squash and squeeze and stroke and dither and ooh and aah for long enough and I’ll buy as big an armful as I can carry; make any suggestions at all and I get flustered, realise I’m a wool addict after all, and walk, empty-handed. My big 5 year old was a very willing learner in the art of classing wools into varying degrees of the classification “Ooooo Pretty!” So we bought sock wool, 1200g of Aran and some posh bamboo/pearl. I’d have bought loads more, but that’ll keep me busy till Spring.

We stopped for a coffee/milkshake at my favourite eatery in Elgin: Scribbles. I’ve loved it for years, because it’s properly baby- and child-friendly, as evidenced by the fact that it’s always heaving. I had a proper, drooling, dreaming addiction to their beef chilli melt whilst pregnant with both Mid and Mini. Today, Maxi had a strawberry milkshake and pink coconut ice slice, in a fit of girly-ness.

I also had an early and most welcome Christmas present: my work pension has been increased by about 10%, to be back-dated to last year. It’s incredibly timely because I calculated that I needed exactly that much more than we currently earn as a family in order for me to remain a stay-at-home mum for the next couple of years. This was why I started my little business, to try to make up the shortfall. (My latest calculations show that with the increase in the cost of living, I not only need the pension increase and to keep my little business running, I also need to earn more! But I’ll worry about that next week). Anyway, anyway, it’s not very much, but it was incredibly welcome. So Merry Christmas right back atcha.

Lastly, I just noticed that I have quite a few folk following this blog by email. Wow! So (a) sorry to clog your inbox with my drivel*, (b) but thank you very much, though, and (c) Merry Christmas and hope your 2012 is interesting, fun and one you’ll remember very fondly.

*Actually, I shouldn’t apologise for how I write – I can’t really change that. I don’t write because I want to, it’s because I need to. Otherwise it just clogs up my addled little head. I tend to sit down when I have 10 mins free and start writing wee comments about the things that happened that day. Usually I manage to join the comments and quips up a bit into something coherent, but not always. And 100% of the time I get carried away and the typing gets faster and faster and noisier and harder, till I’m battering away at the keyboard, in a flurry of fingers and froth, pouring everything out via my fingers (and that’s just the Polyanna posts – you should see me on the angry, ranty posts…). I rarely proof-read through lack of time and opportunity (eg right now Mini is helpfully (!) pressing the keys and wailing at me when I press delete on them – gotta go!) and tend to just bash ‘publish’.

So: Merry Christmas! And please do comment sometimes and just say hi. Even use a pseudonym. Gosh, DEFINITELY use a pseudonym – that could be loads of fun 🙂

Right, I’m off to work the minxes up into a frenzy of excitement and Christmas hysteria. Because I can. And because you’re young and innocent and are made ecstatically happy by tinsel and lights and chocolate and present anticipation for such a horribly short time.

Cringe!

Midi Minx went shopping with me on Friday. We went screeching past a man stacking shelves who, to be fair, had a bit of a muddled face. But I didn’t expect my 3 year old to shout, in a voice that would pierce butter:

“Mummy! That man looks sooooo awful!”

I nearly died on the spot. Luckily I didn’t. I did worse. I muttered something brightly like, “Wow, isn’t he wearing the coolest teeshirt ever?”, realised the total inanity of my remark, and scuttled off, trailing my sniggering daughters with me. Red as red.

On Saturday, not to be out-done, Maxi went to the library. The librarian remembered Midi and my request on Tuesday for a book for children about hospitals (Midi’s to get grommets in and adenoids out at the end of the month).

“My 3 year old is going into hospital next month,” I’d told her. “Do you have any books for kids, I don’t know, like ‘Topsy and Tim Go To Hospital?”

I laughed like a drain when she put her hand immediately to… yep, Topsy and Tim Go To Hospital.

So, this kind, thoughtful lady had looked out another book for Midi, which The Boss gratefully accepted. Maxi handed over her books and asked for her ‘Made In Scotland’ card to be marked up.

“My mummy said you probably couldn’t be bothered to fill it in,” she confided.

Well, when this conversation was relayed to me I was mortified. Should I confront the lady, fess up and apologise profusely? Should I hide and never go back to the library ever, ever again?! Should I pretend it never happened? Should I drop by on Tuesday, thank her for Midi’s book and tell her my nasty comment was about someone else, but that nevertheless I was very sorry (the truth)? Ooooooo, I’m so embarrassed!

Moray Gothic witches

Moray Gothic - 2 of the Terrible Trio

Talking of books, we resisted teaching Maxi to read and just let her get on with it herself, and let school teach her. She’s now had, what, 8 weeks of schooling and merrily read all 30 pages of Dan’s Gran’s Goat to herself, over 3 evenings. I think she liked the ‘burp!’ best. While she was reading it out to me and The Boss, we heard her chirping on about some ‘excited little marks’.

“What are you on about, Maxi? What marks?” I asked

“These ones, the ones like upside-down i’s”, she replied

Exclamation marks. Bless!

It was a wee highlight of this weekend for me. As was today’s bimble along the coast, collecting a few jars of rose-hips, wild apples and blackberries. They’re currently dripping through a jelly bag on my worktop counter and will shortly become Moray Coast Trail jelly-jam. Mmmmm! The girls walked all the way to Cummingston and back to gather them, and even had a play at the playground. Maxi is a terrible walker and she managed it without whingeing, the good girl! Mini wasn’t mad about being wrapped to get to the start of the path, and back home from Cummingston, but she’s only got tiny wee legs.

I’m still battling on with my knitting. It’s very frustrating. I’ve been trying to knit muffs. I have a hundred ideas. Can I translate them, using my wool, and quickly enough to make the muffs an affordable price? That’ll be a big fat NO, then.

Little Things That Improve Your Day Instantly

  • Midi Minx airily announcing at breakfast, “I am not a monster; my teachers say I’m lovely”. I lost my coffee and choked for a loooong time.
  • The expression on Mini’s little face as you hold your arms out for her to jump into at the swimming pool. All 6 of those little teeth on display with a squeal that’s pure dolphin.
  • Maxi whispering, “I love your knitting. You’re the cleverest Mummy in the world”. Ah, darling you won’t be saying that when you discover fashion.
  • Realising you can’t get any wetter (when rained on for the 8th time that day) so stopping wincing against the rain. Then noticing it tastes a bit malty (!)
  • The Boss bringing hot buttered toast, unbidden.
  • I said, “The Boss bringing hot buttered toast, unbidden
  • (Damn, the telepathy link’s down again…Must be the stormy weather)

Granny Stripe Blanket Gorgeousness

granny stripe crochet hearts

Close up of the corner with the soft pink hearts

 I’ve been a knitter for 35 years, but last week due to this and this, I felt a deep urge to do a Granny Stripe blanket.

 
The only thing I’ve ever crocheted to completion before was some little lookalike baby rainbow converse boots, so I had to relearn. I suspect I’m still doing it wrong, but who cares? It’s fun! I’m really enjoying my break from knitting, and I’ve been loving knitting my baby something that she can use.
 
granny stripe blanket side

Half the blanket - flash on to see some colours better

I just used some double-knitting wool I had knocking around my personal stash (as opposed to Rainbow Knits wool – that’s all held entirely separate), so I was limited to what wools I had, rather than what I thought would look nice together. Anyway, I found myself reminiscing as I added each stripe…
 
Granny Stripe blanket
The whole blanket – to fit a car seat

From bottom to top, for the record for my girls:

  1. The rich purple (that looks navy here because my camera can’t cope with purple) of the bottom stripe and outer border was part of the very first bright rainbow things (carseat blanket, hat and leggings) that I knitted Mini Minx the week before she was born

The gorgeously soft lilacy-purple (it’s far pinker irl) was the leftovers from a soft beanie I knitted Maxi Minx, when she was 3

The pale blueish turquoise was a really lovely jumper I knitted Midi Minx when she was just 18 months old; it had beads in the hem and lace around the neck and it made her peachy skin glow. The matching jumper I knitted a 3-year-old Maxi was in dark rose pink: the leftovers formed the top pink heart.

I started using the pale green wool before I was a mother, pregnant with my longed-for Maxi.  It was the wool I used to Swiss darn seashell motifs on her first baby blanket – I left 2 squares blank to finish the day after she was born with her name and date of birth. She uses it for her dollies, now.

The (genuinely) bluish purple was a cardi for me that I knitted on my first visit to the Falkland Islands and wore constantly on my second.

The true turquoise 7 stripes up from bottom was a beautiful pramset I knitted Mini: footed trousers with cables and a swing jacket. When she was born a girl (!), I embroidered some pink roses onto one lapel.

The denim-pink was from another cardi I knitted myself – loooooong and reminds me of nav training.

The single brown stripe in the middle is actually a rich chocolate shade. It was a pair of gloves and a beanie I knitted The Boss a few years ago in the most beautiful, soft wool I could find. Leftovers from another beanie I knitted him made the reddish heart motif and the very thin red border.

The blueish-lilac (that also forms the double inner border) was from simple baby booties I knitted each minx.

The pale pink of one heart motif and the stripe 6 from top was a cashmere ‘sea urchin’ beret and booties I knitted Maxi Minx as a 9 month old, and a soft cosy beret I knitted my mum at the same time – the last thing I made for her before she died. 

I enjoyed talking to Maxi and Midi about what I’d made for my family with each stripe’s wool. Mini doesn’t give a monkey’s about the wool’s provenance, she just likes the different textures (cashmere, merino, silk, acrylic, all in varying proportions and mixes), and she already loves to rub the hearts.